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COLLECTION Identifier: A-160

Papers of Ellis Gray Loring, 1809-1942

Correspondence, scrapbooks, diaries, etc., of Ellis Gray Loring, lawyer and abolitionist, from Boston, Massachusetts.


  • 1809-1942

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Ellis Gray Loring is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


2.5 linear feet ((6 file boxes) plus 1 folio+ folder)

The collection is largely the business papers of Ellis Gray Loring, and the papers of his estate. There are family letters, also, mainly from Anna Loring to her parents and later to her daughter, Louisa Loring Dresel. Of special interest are: (1) a partial diary of Ellis Gray Loring in which he describes various discussions he had with Ralph Waldo Emerson on philosophic and religious issues, dated 1838; (2) A trust established for William Lloyd Garrison by friends to help him and his family financially, but at the same time to hold tighter control over the gift; (3) Letters from Elizabeth Preston Peabody discussing the possible establishment of a Boston academy (1850s to 1860s).

The Ellis Gray Loring Collection covers the period from 1809-1942.

Series I. Family correspondence and business records of Ellis Gray Loring. 1809-1881. The records kept by Loring prior to his death May 24, 1858. They include a large amount of real estate records as well as records of wills, trusts, acts of incorporation, mortgages, loans, taxes, suits and promisory notes, and, lists of profits, rents, and personal property. The papers are arranged alphabetically within the series and chronologically within each folder.

Series II. Estate papers of Ellis Gray Loring and Louisa Loring, 1853-1890. As the business and legal papers of Loring's estate, the records are largely vouchers, receipts and cancelled checks. There are also records of real estate transactions, suits, and various miscellaneous legal papers. The papers are arranged according to individual, type of record, and chronologically.

Series III. Scrapbooks, diaries and photographs of the Loring and Dresel families. 1821-1942. 36 volumes. Arranged chronologically.

Among the correspondents are: Ellis Gray Loring, 1803-1858, Louisa Loring, 1797-1868, Anna Loring Dresel, 1830-1896, Louisa Loring Dresel, 1864-1958, Lydia Maria Child, 1802-1880, Elizabeth Cary Agassiz, 1822-1907, and Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, 1804-1894.


Ellis Gray Loring, lawyer, abolitionist was born on April 14, 1803, the son of James Tyng Loring, a druggist and Relief Faxon. Ellis Gray Loring was born in Boston and spent most of his life there. On October 29, 1827 he married Louisa Gilman of Boston, daughter of Frederick Gilman and Abigail Gilman. Louisa was born January 1, 1797 and died May 25, 1868.

(The following quotations are from the Loring Genealogy, Pope and Loring; Cambridge, 1917).

"He entered Harvard College in 1819 - but was not graduated, though a member of the Hasty Pudding Club and the Phi Beta Kappa Society. The following extract from the College faculty explains this matter: 'June 27, 1824. Loring who left college in May, 1823, at a time a large part of the class was dismissed for resistance of college authority, applies for his degree. - Voted, that Loring's request be not granted, as the Govt. cannot make any distinction between his case and that portion of his class who were dismissed in May, 1823."

"He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1827. He was Counsellor-at-law, master in chancery, and solicitor for the Western Railroad Company. Was one of the early `abolitionists.'"

Loring was an organizer of the New England Anti-Slavery Society in 1831. He financed the continuation of William Lloyd Garrison's Liberator and supported gradual abolition of slavery. In 1836, in the court case, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts vs. Thomas Aves Loring established the principle that a slave having been brought into Massachusetts could not be taken out of the State against his will. Loring died May 24, 1858.

The Lorings had one child, Anna, who was born November 10, 1830. "To her Lydia Maria Child dedicated her book, Fact and Fiction. She married October 29, 1863, Otto Dresel pianist and composer, born at Geisenheim on the Rhine, December 22, 1826, died Beverly, (Massachusetts) July 26, 1890. She was Vice president of the Sanitary Commission of Boston during the Civil War, president of the Vincent Hospital. She died in 1896."

Anna Loring Dresel had two children: Louisa Loring Dresel, 1864-1958 and Ellis Loring Dresel, 1865-1925. Ellis Loring Dresel attended Harvard (A.B. 1887, L.L.B. 1892) and was a lawyer in Boston in the firm of Goodwin, Dresel, and Parker. He was attached to the United States Embassy in Berlin in 1915, and was assigned to the Embassy in Vienna and later to the Legation at Berne. His most recent work was with American prisoners of war.


The collection is arranged in three series:
  1. Series I. Family correspondence and business records of Ellis Gray Loring. 1809-1881.
  2. Series II. Estate papers of Ellis Gray Loring and Louisa Loring, 1853-1890.
  3. Series III. Scrapbooks, diaries and photographs of the Loring and Dresel families. 1821-1942.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession Numbers: 163, 1679

The papers of Ellis Gray Loring were deposited with the Schlesinger Library in August 1969 by Mrs. F. Stanton Cawley.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Ellis Gray Loring Family papers, 1828-1923 (A-115.).


  1. Box 1: Folders 1-21, Vol. 1.
  2. Box 2: Folders 22-48
  3. Box 3: Folders 49-87
  4. Box 4: Vols. 2-14.
  5. Box 5: Folder 90, Vols. 15-22.
  6. Box 6: Vols. 23-37.

Processing Information

Processed: November 1969

Link to catalog
Loring, Ellis Gray, 1803-1858. Papers of Ellis Gray Loring, 1809-1942: A Finding Aid.
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America

Repository Details

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